There are well over 200 virus strains that cause the common cold. Rhinoviruses are the most common. They’re brutally rude little things, showing up unannounced and always overstaying their welcome like drunken relatives. The human body’s immune system has an amazing ability to rally the troops and fight off these little monsters. A healthy person has an average of 7,000 white blood cells in each drop of blood, all at the ready to attack as soon as these viruses breach our castle walls. When such a virus invades, the body immediately starts releasing and producing huge battalions of additional white blood cells like giant clone armies (that’s a Star Wars reference for my fellow geeks out there), reinforcing the ranks by the billions. It is nothing short of miraculous.
Yet, when our eyes swell and our sinuses run with a bad head cold, we don’t see the miracle of the immune system. We certainly don’t feel like a miracle. Instead, we feel tired, dreary and often rather crabby. Ironically, we are not tired because of the virus; we are tired because of how hard our bodies are working to heal. The symptoms of sickness are often actually signs of healing. But we don’t see it that way. We tend to recognize only what we are feeling rather than seeing the miracle within us.
If we are not careful, we will apply the same perspective to the larger organism of which we are all a part – planet earth. This interconnected creation is under attack by a nasty viral strain, just as it has been since the story of Cain picking up a rock and smashing it into his brother’s head. Pockets of senseless violence are erupting worldwide and seem to be contagious. Hate, anger and racism have found new power and are threatening our security and well being. In response, we feel tired, dreary, anxious and stressed.
But underneath it all, deep within us, the Spirit is at work cultivating love, kindness and human compassion. These are the instruments of our global immune system, and they are in fact being produced and deployed in great abundance. Millions of people sending billions of dollars to provide hurricane relief. Countless tears and prayers offered for Las Vegas. All around us wonderful people are caring so much. They care for children and elderly; they support mental illness programs; they visit the sick and bring meals to the home-bound; and they fund shelters and stock food pantries. Goodness is everywhere.
Individual acts of loving kindness are much, much more the norm than acts of hatred and violence.
Do we see it? Do we recognize only what we feel – fear, anxiety, insecurity, or do we see the miracles within us and around us – love, kindness, human compassion? Do we focus on the hurt or the healing? How we answer that question will determine whether we are part of the problem or part of the promise.
Journey well and pray always.